Why is the iPhone a closed platform? Even though Apple is going to allow third party applications next year, it’s apparent that they’re going to exercise some control over who’s allowed to deploy applications for the iPhone and what those applications will be allowed to do. The degree of control Apple will exercise remains unknown.
Steve Jobs has a reputation as a control freak, and a lot of people believe that he doesn’t want to allow third party iPhone applications because he doesn’t want crappy applications to ruin the experience that Apple has created. There’s also the argument that Apple is being forced by carriers to control which applications are deployed on the phone. That’s the argument that interests me, because I think it illustrates the importance of network neutrality.
Mobile carriers are pretty tight fisted in terms of how they allow their networks to be used, and ISPs would love to see the Internet governed more in that fashion. They see the ability to buy some bandwidth and use it in whatever fashion you see fit as a design flaw. The iPhone is a great little computer that can connect to the Internet from anywhere (other than my office, because AT&T’s coverage sucks), and the only thing that keeps us from taking full advantage of it is Apple and AT&T. AT&T, Time Warner, and the other ISPs would love to team up with computer makers and bring all of the frustrations of iPhone users to your desktop computing experience. That’s why network neutrality is worth fighting for.